Officer Leonard A. Christiansen
Born: October 1, 1941
Tour of Duty: 5 years
Badge Number: 55
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: April 2, 1971
Weapon Used: Shotgun
Suspect Info: Suspect know, tried and multiple hung jury findings
Officer Leonard Christiansen and Officer Paul Teel responded to a reported burglary call at 4792 Ottawa, Riverside, on the night of April 2nd, 1971. Ottawa Avenue had no street lights, and with no moon in the sky on that Friday evening, it was unusually dark. In reality, no one living at 4792 Ottawa had reported a burglary; it was an abandoned house. Upon arrival, the officers looked around from their car and saw nothing but darkness and thick shrubbery; no one was waiting outside to meet the officers to report the crime. Officer Teel turned on the patrol car’s spotlight mounted on the front of the driver’s door, but it revealed nothing suspicious in the dense shrubbery concealing the front of the house and surrounding the driveway. The officers, in no hurry to step out of their car during the routine call, activated their car’s interior dome light and waited for a break in the radio traffic to call in their arrival at the address. However, radio traffic that night was heavy. Officer Teel finally gathered his clipboard and flashlight and proceeded to exit their patrol car. Officer Christiansen, preparing to follow, opened his door and stepped out of the car. Shots and blinding muzzle flashes, from three ambushing gunmen, burst from the nearby shrubbery concealing the driveway. Officer Paul Teel never knew what hit him. He never touched his gun. Several shots slammed into his chest – one piercing his badge – knocking him backwards and toward the rear of the patrol car. His flashlight and clipboard flew from his hands as his body hit the ground. He was killed instantly. Officer Leonard Christiansen was hit by a similar fusillade as he stepped from the passenger side of the patrol car, but he was only wounded at the time. He grabbed for his revolver and fired off three shots towards his hidden assailants. Trapped, frantic in the face of death, he stumbled back to his patrol car, snatched up his radio, and screamed into it: “SEND HELP!” More shots were fired, which struck his chest, and the assassins were gone.
Officers responding from all over the city, arrived to find both officers on the ground. Officer Teel was dead, on his stomach with his head facing the street. Shift supervisor, Sergeant Leadell Lee, arrived to find Officer Christiansen also on the ground, but still conscious, his right arm outstretched with his gun in hand. He was put into an ambulance, but died while still on the way to the hospital. Officer Christiansen, born on October 1, 1941, was the child of Edith and Svend Christiansen. He was married to Janice Christiansen and had three children, Steven, Karen, and Keith. His son, Steven, has since gone on to become a Police Detective for the Riverside Police Department.
Officer Leonard Christiansen is buried at Olivewood Cemetery, Riverside, California.